super generic girl

the awesomely average life of a girl like all others


Putting together a marathon playlist


I have a problem. Well, a few. But one, in particular, for today. I’ll bother you about the others another time. I like to think I’ve got a broad musical taste but the music I tend to listen to on a day-to-day basis is not even remotely close to being good running music.

To be honest, now that I’ve typed that, I’m not actually sure I know what defines “good running music”. Sure, stuff like BPM (beats per minute) is important but, then again, everyone’s pace is different so it’s still very hard to find music that suits a particular style of running.

Sometimes I notice what I’m listening to at home or at work and I wonder whether the appropriate sport for these songs is kind of restricted to “bawling your eyes out” (that’s a sport, right?). But that’s okay. Like I said, I’ve got a broad enough range of stuff I listen to that I can put together a playlist for my workouts. So I did that about, hmm, a year ago. And I’ve stuck with it since then.

Last week, during one of my runs, I caught myself skipping pretty much every second song, which completely distracted me from the run. This, buddies of mine, is a clear sign that Lady Gaga and I need to spend some time apart.

There are a few songs that, for some reason, I haven’t gotten tired of (yet). In case you’re looking for some good songs to keep you going, here’s the list of stuff I’m currently happy to run to:

  • Florence and the Machine – Dog Days Are Over (actually, pretty much all of her songs)
  • Chemical Brothers – Galvanize
  • Eminem – Lose Yourself
  • La Roux – Bulletproof
  • Bloc Party – Banquet
  • OK Go – Get Over It (or, you know, any of their other songs)
  • Iron Maiden – Run to the Hills (pretty self-explanatory)
  • MGMT – Kids
  • Kids of 88 – My House
  • Arcade Fire – No Cars Go
  • Franz Ferdinand – This Fire (or any other of their songs, basically)
  • Vampire Weekend – Run
  • The Killers – Mr Brightside
  • The Postal Service – Such Great Heights

That’s it. Fourteen songs that probably won’t make me hit the “next” button while running. You know who can run a marathon within the time that it takes for these fourteen songs to play? No one, that’s who.

So I need more music. I’ve been trying to find the right kind of stuff and have been pretty successful with some discoveries. Rock My Run, for example, is one of my new favourite websites and some of their mixes have kept me really happy during some lonely runs. The problem is that I’m far too OCD to risk running a marathon with a playlist someone else put together.

I’ve also tried audiobooks and I’m even considering giving them another go but I find that they require a level of concentration that I cannot give them while running (I kept getting distracted and then going back to listening and not knowing a thing about what was happening to the characters).

So this is where you come in. I need to block out the sound of my lungs trying to pop out of my mouth (lovely image, I know. Sorry, it’s out there now). So tell me: what song really gets you going? Have you mastered the perfect running playlist? What’s your power song for when you feel like maybe you should just turn around and walk back home? Is it really embarrassing to have the Eye of the Tiger on your playlist? Tell me everything!


After telling me about your favourite running songs, don’t forget to enter the Pro Compression giveaway that will be running (running, hahahahaha, get it? So clever) until January 20. You can enter as many times as you like since I love hearing about what’s brightening people’s days. And since we’re sharing, my day today was brightened by a lovely picnic with a bunch of fellow runners followed by a delicious gingernut latte. What about yours?



RIP iPod, hello new running gadgets!

This morning, I went for my first run in five days, which is, in my world, an abnormal number of days without running. My last run had been on Thursday last week. My iPod stopped working on that same Thursday. Coincidence? Don’t be silly, of course not.

I had an amazing 10km run by myself after work that day, complete with pukeko sightings and everything. It was sunny and not too warm and I got to try out a new running playlist. By the time I got home, I hit the ‘stop’ button on my iPod and it gave up on life. The screen went completely white so I can’t do anything with it. I tried restoring it as the website suggested but it didn’t work.

Apple has refused to fix it for me, despite admitting that it is a known issue and completely unrelated to the crack on the screen (that the iPod has had since January). Eleven months, a few running events, hundreds of kilometres of training and two half-marathons later, I’m iPod-less.

I’m not sure why it had such an impact on my running schedule but, if I’m running by myself, I really can’t run without music. I almost feel bad about this handicap – it sort of reminds me of the joke about the blonde who died when they took her headphones away (yep, I really did just google that joke so I can link you to it).

Lucky for me, I have a new phone capable of handling all manner of apps and whatever else the cool kids are using these days. Yesterday, I loaded it with a few of my favourite songs to run to and downloaded the MapMyRun app. The phone is considerably bigger than my now broken iPod Nano but has one particularly great advantage over the iPod: it works.

It’s a good short-term solution and it may even be a good long-term one. Now I need to find out how long the battery will last for while simultaneously playing music, tracking my time/distance and stopping to take the occasional photo. If it’s anything less than two hours, I’m going to have to find an alternative because there is no way I’ll be able to run a half-marathon without music.

In the future, I may just have to suck it up and invest in a Garmin Forerunner (what I really mean by this is: hot damn, I want a Forerunner and now I’m just coming up with an excuse to justify it to myself) and a small mp3 player of some sort (maybe an iPod Shuffle, if I’m ever able to bring myself to give money to Apple again).

Tell me, what gadgets do you take out with you while running? Anything you really can’t run without? 


Fado (and other weird expat behaviour)

What’s the weirdest thing about being an expat, other than the word expat? (I know you didn’t ask but just go along with it). Well, for me it’s finding myself feeling nostalgic for things I didn’t even realise I liked.

Growing up in Lisbon, it was sort of uncool to like fado. It was old people’s stuff, you know. In fact, you kind of had to go out of your way to find it, it seemed. And so I never did. Instead, I hummed along to whatever was fashionable back then (and okay, some less-than-fashionable stuff but lets not get into that).

As I was heading out of my teens, Mariza exploded and Fado slowly started making its way back (?) into the mainstream music circuit. Or maybe it was just that I went to the Faculty of Letters and started hanging out with intellectual folk and so higher culture became more common around me (whoa, that sounded snotty, didn’t it? Don’t worry, I was still licking my bowls after ice cream back then. Okay, I still do). It was the height of my hipster-like life and liking fado was kind of cool precisely because fado was uncool. Or something. But even then, I never made it past more than a couple of fado songs in a row.

Fast forward a few years and I’m inside JB Hi-Fi in New Zealand looking for a CD of Kiwi music to take to my auntie in Portugal for her birthday. Chris was happily browsing the CDs in another aisle when my eyes fell on The Rough Guide to Fado. And I had to have it. Because I loved the songs in it? Hell, I didn’t even recognise their names! But it was something from Portugal in New Zealand and I go all silly when I see Portuguese stuff in NZ (like the time I bought a disgusting tin of tuna because it said “Portuguese tuna” or the time I paid about $5 for a Portuguese tart in Sydney and it tasted like poop. But I love you, motherland!).

Fast forward again to about a month or so ago. A friend emailed me saying he was doing some research on Fado music and asked for some pointers. I put off writing him a reply because I knew it would be a long one (I tend to babble a lot when foreigners ask about my country because, well, my country rocks) and I was feeling particularly homesick at the time so I wasn’t looking forward to mess with those feelings like that.

Today, I finally replied to his email. Yes, I babbled. And I added a lot of YouTube links. And then I hit the ‘send’ button and spent pretty much the rest of the day at work with my earphones on listening to Fado. It took me coming to New Zealand to realise how much I love it.

And see, I’m babbling again. Don’t mind me. I just wanted you to listen to these and dare you not to be touched by them, whether you understand the lyrics or not.


setting up a running playlist

I can’t run by myself without music. It takes my mind away from the whole running process and the right songs help me find my pace and run more comfortably.

When I started running and realised this, I had a bit of trouble finding the right songs to run to. In fact, my running playlist is still (and probably will always be) a working in progress. I realised then that most of the songs in my itunes library were way too slow to set a comfortable running pace and so I spent some time looking for some new stuff to listen to.

I tried running podcasts (there is quite a selection out there) but I just can’t relate to any of those techno beats they usually play in those. I tried audiobooks, thinking that maybe I’d be able to distract myself from the run to the point of focusing only on the audiobook and running longer as a consequence. It didn’t happen. I tried other podcasts but then found myself running on the street and getting weird looks from people as I ran along laughing out loud because of Karl Pilkington‘s theories. Laughing out loud when you’re out by yourself is not only embarrassing but, if you’re running, also screws up your breathing. Lesson learnt.

In the end, I gave in and, one day, spent a good couple of hours googling half-marathon playlists and any recommendations for good songs to run to. There is a lot of stuff out there and I learnt a couple of things in the process:

  1. the songs that help you run aren’t necessarily songs you would describe as being your usually style of music but they still help you clear your head and run at a comfortable pace so you just embrace that.
  2. there is a surprisingly high number of runners out there running to the beat of Celine Dion songs. I’m not sure I understand this.

Anyway, I thought I’d add some of my current running songs to the already large number of such lists on the internet. Because I can.

  • florence + the machine – dog days are over
  • florence  + the machine – kiss with a fist
  • regina spektor – fidelity
  • postal service – such great heights
  • the killers – mr brightside
  • amy winehouse – valerie
  • anika moa – running through the fire
  • gin wigmore – oh my
  • iron maiden – run to the hills
  • arctic monkeys – when the sun goes down
  • cee lo green – forget you
  • mgmt – kids
  • anything by franz ferdinand
  • most songs by vampire weekend
Got any suggestions of good songs to run to? Let me know!